January 16, 2004 8:49 AM   Subscribe

What are the practical uses of a DVD-RW drive? [MI]

What can be done with them?

If you have a single drive, you can't "copy" your DVD movies... right?

You can't download movies and burn them on DVDs because your main DVD player for your TV won't read the files... right?

Is it just a glorified storage device? Or can you do some cool things with them?
posted by Seth to Technology (19 answers total)
archiving 70GB+ of mp3s.
posted by patrickje at 9:04 AM on January 16, 2004

You can very easily copy DVD movies with a single DVD drive. The excellent DVD shrink will make a perfect copy of any 4.7 gig DVD or a slightly compressed version of a 9 gig DVD. It also removes region coding and macrovision, and allows limited reauthoring.
posted by phatboy at 9:19 AM on January 16, 2004

There are plenty of "main DVD players" that will read DVD-R or DVD-RW. Feel free to burn DVDs with the intention of using them in a consumer DVD player.
posted by majick at 9:30 AM on January 16, 2004

Lots of people, like me, like to create and edit their own videos. DVD is one very useful format to record the end result.
posted by beth at 9:42 AM on January 16, 2004

Rent the movie, copy the movie, watch the movie when you want. My burner has easily paid for itself through a year of avoided late fees at the video store. It also lets me quickly and easily backup data on my home machine and store it at my office.
posted by stonerose at 10:11 AM on January 16, 2004

is there something like DVD shrink for mac?
that looks much much easier than my current process of copying a dvd.
posted by alicila at 10:50 AM on January 16, 2004

They are cheaper & recorder more formats than most DVD recorder for your home tv.
posted by thomcatspike at 11:10 AM on January 16, 2004

They are cheaper & recorder more formats than most DVD recorders for your home tv.
posted by thomcatspike at 11:12 AM on January 16, 2004

is there something like DVD shrink for mac?

Try forty-two. I haven't been able to get it to work, but your choices are limited, and others have had good results.
posted by scarabic at 11:17 AM on January 16, 2004

DVD Shrink is perhaps the greatest piece of freeware EVER! That's a great application to back up your DVD collection when used in conjunction with Nero.

A DVD-RW drive is also a great way to bring things to your TV for group viewing. If you've downloaded an .avi that you want to watch with your friends, convert it to MPEG-2. I use the free DVD2SVCD, which will handle AVI files as well as DVDs, and spits out an MPEG-2, which is the format for both SVCD and DVD.

There are plenty of apps that will format the MPEG-2 into a playable DVD. Ulead Movie Factory is a very decent, afforable piece of software for this. Check dvdrhelp.com for some answers and email me if you get stuck. I love this stuff!
posted by Mayor Curley at 11:21 AM on January 16, 2004

I had no idea that duping a movie disk was so easy. I could build a crazy DVD library for the cost of a burner, some blanks, and a couple months' subscription to netflix.

Anyone know why DVDShrink doesn't run afoul of DMCA for circumventing Macrovision? Is it because it's never been discussed on a popular advice website? *annoyed grunt*
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 11:35 AM on January 16, 2004

I am sure DVD shrink runs afoul of all sorts of DMCA provisions. It uses DeCSS to descramble the disk, which to my knowledge is still not real legal. I doubt circumventing macrovison and region coding is either.

DVD Shrink is an amazing program! It even removes that "can't fast forward through the FBI warning" thing that is really annoying. Doing this should not be illegal. In almost all respects after running a disk thorough DVDShrink the result is a much improved DVD. There are some pixely artifacts when dual layer disks are reduced to single layer disks, but they are no where near as bad as I expected.

Reencoding the movie is amazingly fast as well (~30 minutes on my P4). DVDShrink must be doing something intelligent with the raw MPEG stream. A full recode normally takes a godawful amount of time.

By the way, does anyone know of a way to convert directly from an AVI to dvd-formatted files? Right now I am using TMPGENC -> Sonic Mydvd -> Burn. Sonic takes five hours on my computer to recode the audio to AC3. I'd like to skip the sonic step if possible.
posted by phatboy at 11:49 AM on January 16, 2004

Unfortunately, stripping out the compression always takes a while. And doing straight from TMPGENC yields unpredictable results-- it's usually fine, but it trips up on any little mistake on the file. The batch encoding is nice, except that I've left the computer alone for hours, only to find that TMPGENC stopped 15 minutes into the first file.

But no, there isn't any way to speed up the process beyond what you're doing. Doing it conservatively takes even longer (but I think that ultimately I save time through avoiding false starts.)
posted by Mayor Curley at 12:14 PM on January 16, 2004

Glorified, or nessecary if, say, you run a small business that has several gigs of data that needs to be redundantly backed up on a regular basis, like the last place I worked at. They had tons of charts done in Illustrator and Autocad that they were trying to backup on cd-rws(!). I got them a dvd-rw drive and an auto-backup program, saving them several hours of work per week.
posted by Hackworth at 12:34 PM on January 16, 2004

Anybody got a great source for lower-cost DVD blanks?
posted by theora55 at 12:50 PM on January 16, 2004

Phatboy, I misread your post. It's Sonic that's taking forever-- I get it. I switched from Sonic to Ulead (sonic came bundled), and provided that your source format is the same as the result (NTSC to NTSC for example), Ulead takes about 30 minutes.
posted by Mayor Curley at 12:58 PM on January 16, 2004

alicila, I'm not sure what current process you refer to, but you might want to try "DVD Backup" (which allows you to copy DVDs) then, if necessary, use "DVD2one X" which squishes large DVDs so they fit on one consumer DVD. Then use Toast to burn it.

theora55 this doesn't answer your question, but I would steer clear of Princo - when I use their DVDs, I can only read the resulting disc on the machine I used to burn it. Memorex and Verbatim have been good to me.
posted by stonerose at 2:09 PM on January 16, 2004

theora55: rima.com has excellent reviews
posted by reverendX at 2:14 PM on January 16, 2004

alicila: try DVD2OneX to compress DVDs. You will need something to remove the CSS first, such as OSeX.

theora55: You can find blanks in bulk at Meritline or Supermediastore. Ritek is very reliable and will cost around a buck apiece in bulk. I second stonerose -- avoid Princo like the plague. I've had something like a 40% failure rate with them. (Ritek runs about 1% for comparison.)
posted by joaquim at 7:01 PM on January 16, 2004

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